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The Sea of Love

It seems like just yesterday when Roundhouse was the new fish in the pond. Three sprats splashing out into a sea of mediocrity and flotsam

It seems like just yesterday when Roundhouse was the new fish in the pond. Three sprats splashing out into a sea of mediocrity and flotsam.

We were going to prove to all that life's a beach and we were the guys to start the party. Club
18-30 had never seen such spunk or big balls. But, alas, we quickly discovered that the coastline has a sewerage pipe pumping effluent at an alarming rate.

Before long we weren't just swimming with the brown fishes, we were doggy-paddling inland to get our jabs from the nurse. However, there was still hope that we would find the mythical Adlantis we'd heard of, where brightly coloured starfish shine and having crabs isn't so bad.

Fifteen years on and we still get excited by those rare moments when we catch a glimpse of a campaign or ad riding high on the crest of a wave. With this in mind, it is to the sea I turn for the dreaded rating scale.

A prawn denotes an ad that's been hanging around the sewer pipe too long - almost certain to turn your stomach.

A crab is an excellent starter but perhaps not the main course, while a lobster represents the kind of feast you'd pay that little extra for.

So my little dive buddies, take a deep breath, hold your noses and let's dive in...

Click on images for a larger view

BUTRANS - for severe pain
This is one of those ideas that grows on you (like barnacles). I was unsure when it first surfaced if I liked it, but it did catch my attention and, blow me down, I think this one floats. I'm a sucker for simplicity and this ad is a no-brainer. It does exactly what it (k)needs to.

The image has its own cleverness and works very well with the copy. The logo reinforces the message and then, just for good measure, the payoff line reinforces it all again. Not perhaps a creative's answer but then we're not the target audience. Single-minded and nicely art directed, I'm guessing it scores well in research (is that good or bad?) and I bet the client is having a whale of a time showing off his legs.

LYRICA - for peripheral neuropathic pain
From bubbling turmoil to peaceful tranquility. I like the idea. It's a simple analogy and most creatives have used it in one form or another. The main copyline is direct and positions the product well but then the bodycopy wades in and the idea springs a leak.

Asking someone to 'experience the possibilities' always feels a bit desperate to me: it's just not positive enough. It's like when you're learning to swim and your instructor tells you to let go of the side (It'll be fine, you'll see). You just don't quite believe it is worth the risk.

When I first spied this ad I realised I'd flipped past it a few times without registering it. Why? Because it is too cold and in a spread of copy simply doesn't stand out (but I bet it looks great in a frame).

It's more of a detail aid cover than a journal ad; it just doesn't make the main dish.

LIPITOR - for high cholesterol
Relax. Take it easy. Chill. We've all done it. Nice, feel good stock shot; shoe horned messages. It's a low stress answer to the brief. This was probably put forward at a presentation between the wacky idea that won the pitch and the boringly safe answer.

It is an old clichÈ but put your hand over the logo and this is everyman's campaign. It could be about recruitment, tampons or holidays. Research on this type of idea tells us most busy GPs don't equate themselves (or their patients) with this kind of image and message. This ad isn't necessarily bad, it's just not particularly good either. It's like swimming with wrasse. Pretty to look at, but you'd much rather see a dolphin or shark.

PROTOPIC - for atopic dermatitis
I met an eel in Cuba on a recent diving trip. He flashed by me and I glimpsed a beautiful mottled body in greens, browns and yellows. I followed the little fella for a while and finally caught up with him by a small outcrop of rocks. He was indeed almost perfect except for one thing. The whole of one side was scarred and festering. This ad has that feeling.

I love the main copy line. A few tweaks and the 'within your reach copy' would also score highly. But the art direction lets it down. I'm guessing this was originally developed for derms and indeed it has an almost clinical feel; however, it appeared in GP.

Imagine if the photography had a little more depth and colour. Imagine the photo all over the page with no white (which in this case pushes the image almost out of the ad). Take some time with the typography (the copy deserves much better) and very quickly you have an ad with page presence and personality.

FOSAVANCE - for postmenopausal osteoporosis
Every now and then a beautiful wreck is discovered on the sea bed and immediately it becomes a diving attraction for those of us who like to strap a can of air on our backs and spend some time blowing bubbles.

Most wrecks are ugly, twisted and unrecognisable as anything other than scrap. This ad is an example of the latter. It is a true bottom-feeder because it doesn't know what it is. It's all over the place. I can almost see the boxes being ticked during the development of this: scientific? Check: use of logo graphic and colours? Check: colourful? Check: patient (smiling)? Check: bones? Check:BIG FLASH? Double check.

Sadly, it looks like it was put together by a committee. Is it just me or does she look like she's blowing off?

I think this prawn obviously got a little confused and has swum up the pipe!

2nd September 2008

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